The seaside town of Kaş (pronounced cash), situated between Antalya and Dalaman on the Turkish Riviera is a true gem – enchanting, captivating and as picture-perfect as a film set. Hardly surprising, then, that the area does indeed boast its fair share of links to the literary and film worlds.
Louis de Bernières, famed author of the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which catapulted the Greek island of Kefalonia into superstardom, has also worked his magic on the village of Kayaköy, not far from Kaş, on Turkey’s Lycian coast.
Kayaköy – or Kaya Village as it is also known – was inhabited by Greek nationals until 1923, when, following the Turkish War of Independence, , there was a population exchange between the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece. Kayaköy, now still abandoned and preserved as a museum, is used as the setting of de Bernières’s 2004 novel, Birds Without Wings, sometimes described as a Turkish War and Peace.
Kayaköy is now a popular stop-off with tourists en route to the nearby town of Fethiye.
Walk Like a Lycian
The 500-kilometre Lycian Way stretches from Fethiye to the ancient city of Antalya and is one of the big draws of a trip to the south. Waymarked in 1999, the footpath snakes around dramatic coastline and mountain terrain, using a network of ancient roads, shepherd’s paths and forest tracks. It was voted one of the world’s top ten walks by the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper.
Numerous ruins, temples, castles, ports and local villages are dotted along the Lycian Way, guaranteeing sightseeing distractions are plentiful. A popular undertaking with hikers during the cooler spring and autumn months, the Lycian Way is also attractive to outdoor adventurers pursuing activities such as canyoning, yachting and scuba diving.
Another popular destination in the region is Meis (‘Kastellorizo’ in Greek), just six kilometres off the coast of Kaş. This Dodecanese Greek island is an easy day trip from the Turkish mainland.
Movie buffs may be interested to learn that Meis served as the setting for the Oscar-winning Italian movie Mediterraneo, which follows the exploits of a group of Italian soldiers marooned on a Greek island after their vessel is sunk in World War II.
Troubled World War II vessels aside, boats are the most reliable means of making the crossings to the island. One fitness-focussed alternative approach, however, is the yearly swim and canoe race.
Water sports mavens know that diving is particularly popular in the area and there are many dive sites in the waters off Kaş and Meis. Dives can be arranged to suit all levels of expertise, but experienced underwater explorers can take advantage of some great wreck and deep dive opportunities. There’s even an option to explore the remains of an Italian WWII plane 60 metres down!
Homage to Homer
No review of this part of the world is complete without a mention of Homer’s masterpiece, The Odyssey. The ancient town of Olympos, located in a valley 90 kilometres southwest of Antalya, probably takes its name from nearby Mount Olympos. According to Homer’s epic, it is from here that the god Poseidon looked out to sea and witnessed the storm that shipwrecked Odysseus’s boat as he sailed from Calypso’s island.
In the modern era, back in 1997, the town played host to a dramatic recreation of The Odyssey. The lavish small-screen adaptation boasted a bevy of big-name actors including Isabella Rossellini and Christopher Lee!
A very popular area with tourists keen savour centuries of fascinating Greek and Roman culture and history, it’s also a hit with adrenaline junkies who can try their hand at canyoning, mountain biking, rock climbing and sea kayaking in the surrounding Olympos-Bey Mountains National Park (Olimpos-Beydağları Milli Parkı).